I have made some beautiful quilts with beautiful fabrics. I am lucky (or unlucky if you ask my bank account!) to see all the new fabrics as they arrive, and it's just astonishing how beautiful the prints are, year after year.
But do you want to know a secret? My favorite quilts are not the ones I've made with favorite fabrics. They're not the quilts on my bed or that I've made and given for babies and weddings and Christmas gifts. They're not the ones I've quilted with my Bernina, and they're not the ones I've hand-stitched around thousands of little paper hexagons to create queen-size out of 3/4-inch pieces.
I've always liked "old things." I was the kid who would find boxes of old pictures, cups, books, and knick-knacks in the barn or the attic or the very back of the closet at my grandparents' house to explore and pore over. I can still tell you what the most exciting inscriptions said in my grandfather's 1943 yearbook, I have a pretty potpourri jar made by my great-grandmother's aunt in 1876, and my favorite pastime (aside from sewing) is colorizing family pictures to bring the 1800s to early 1900s to life.
So, it makes perfect sense that my favorite quilts are not only old, but little slices of life. They're the scrap quilts made of the good bits of worn shirts, flour sacks, little bits saved when nothing that could be used was ever thrown away (and they'd actually get used, not stuck in a drawer!) I even have the quilt made for my grandfather upon the occasion of his birth, almost 100 years ago.
I can look for hours at these tiny 1-inch postage stamps and imagine the great aunt who loved that shirt or the kid who wore that skirt until it wouldn't fit. I imagine moms, grandmas, aunts carefully cutting and saving, stitching and quilting until we have an amazing quilt.
I love tracing the perfect little hand-stitches and can't believe how much time it would take to hand-sew each 1-inch scrappy block together and then quilt it so tiny and precise. I remember tracing along the double wedding rings and being amazed by all the colors and patterns.
I can't hope to attain the precision of these quilters of yore, but I hope that someday when my great great great grandchildren are snuggled under a Quiltworx quilt made by me - a grandmother who never knew them - and passed down through generations, their mama will tuck them in marveling at those pretty batiks and knowing they were loved even before they were born. Quilts do that, don't they?
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